Solo - 2018
Director(s): Ron Howard
Writer(s): Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan (screenplay) / George Lucas (characters)
Cinematography by: Bradford Young
Editor(s): Pietro Scalia
Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Joonas Suotamo, Donald Glover, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Paul Bettany
Synopsis: During an adventure into a dark criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion (IMDB).
Coming in to this movie my expectations were so low, I hoped that I would be at least surprised. So long as they kept me entertained, I probably would’ve given it a thumb up or a passing grade. The reason why I wasn’t excited is not because I’m so loyal to the character or the source material, it’s because prequels inherently bore me. They are devoid of tension and drama because you know when, where and how the key players will end up at the end of the day, so logically you are hyper aware of their indestructibility. Yet the movie still tries to make you feel like they could die at any moment. Also, this movie faced a lot of production turmoil with Ron Howard having to step in place of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller to reshoot most of the movie, leading me to question the quality of the movie. I guess you could say Lord and Miller…shot first… that was so low hanging fruit that I had to take it. The result was a non-stop action packed boring movie that felt so long that my wife and I started to talk about our plans for the weekend. So, long-winded opening aside, how about we talk about it.
This movie is a Star Wars movie. Honestly, it is. It has all the classic elements of a Star Wars movie. We have a sassy robot, a shady bar full of weird aliens, holograms, Dejarik, hyperdrive, blasters, lightsaber technology-ish, smugglers/scoundrels, TIE fighters, Star Wars score and vests. Yet it feels hollow and uninteresting because they are so focused on winking at the audience through fan service moments that they forgot to build a compelling and interesting story around their beloved characters. The constant references and easter eggs that are thrown at you in this 2hr 15mn runtime will make you want to scream at the screen; “Yes, I remember!”. The dice, the blaster, the hairy friend, the capes, the poker game, stop making me think of other movies and give me something new.
Look, I knew this coming in, but it was so blatant and lazy that it just bored me and annoyed me a bit. I’ll give you an example, Solo asks Chewie his name, after learning its Chewbacca he smirks and says, “You’re going to need a nickname, I’m not saying that all the time”. Yeah movie, I know he has a nickname, we all know that – couldn’t that have come naturally through their interactions instead of being force-fed through a lazy throw-away line. It felt like the writers were trying to distract you from the fact that the movie is not good by attaching bells and whistles to the dialogue. It’s like Woody Harrelson’s character. He loves to spin around his blaster and make fancy poses when he is shooting his blaster, but at the end of the day he is just shooting his blaster. It’s a guy shooting his blaster just like we have seen countless times before, no matter how many fancy spins he does prior to pulling the trigger.
Quick note: I’m not angry or disappointed, I just feel bad for the fans. There was a 45-year-old Jedi Knight at my screening. His costume was legit awesome. He probably took it to the dry cleaners, he shined his shoes, he put on his Star Wars perfume and trimmed his beard to perfectly look like Obi-Wan. Only to be talked down to by this movie asking him over and over again “did you get that reference?”. He raised his hands in disdain during the reveal of Chewie. Maybe he can mind trick himself into thinking he had a fun time.
Look, this movie isn’t horrible or even bad, it’s just blah. Ron Howard did a serviceable job directing the action and actors. With all the production nightmares it faced, it’s truly impressive that this is a cohesive movie with a start and middle and end that doesn’t feel like two movies spliced together. The acting was fine. I was looking at it like an alternate world storyline and this was another Han Solo. Alden Ehrenreich is charismatic, but he was set up to fail since everybody has Ford’s portrayal seared into their brains. Donald Glover is cool and all but it ended up feeling like he was doing an impression of Billy D instead of making the character his own. I probably loved Paul Bettany the most, he looked like he was having a blast playing this almost-over-the-top bad guy. The rest I struggle to even put into words my feelings, since I ultimately will completely forget about them by tomorrow.
Solo ultimately fell prey to its constant need to rethread the things fans love about the originals. They completely forgot to set up new themes and characters to explore in this universe. This is a universe and yet it feels it feels we only play within a four block radius of Disney Studios. It’s full of action and great special effects that drag on for so long that your eyes glaze over because it’s just a meaningless spectacle with no consequence or purposes. I walked away with a “so what?” feeling that I couldn’t shake. This movie is just a fart in hyperdrive - you may smell it for a second but it will be long gone before you even care that it happened. The Jedi Knight at my screening is why I love movies.
Solo is currently playing in theaters. Meh.
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